[CF-metadata] what standard names are for

Jonathan Gregory j.m.gregory at reading.ac.uk
Thu Apr 10 11:31:32 MDT 2008

Dear all

This exchange of views has helped me to appreciate what I think standard names
are for (see also http://cf-pcmdi.llnl.gov/trac/ticket/24). Possible the word
"name" is somewhat misleading. I don't think of standard names as names, but as
succint descriptions - something between a name and a definition, as I said
earlier. As such, they are useful for listing the contents of a file, and for
discussing quantities to be collected and archived, for example. They are short
enough for these purposes, even though someone of them are bit a longer than a
line. While I agree that fully self-describing files are not practicable, I
find that the standard names do make the file contents fairly intelligible.

It's because I don't think they are really names that I sometimes disagree
with using the terms that are commonly used within a discipline, when those
terms are not self-explanatory. Hence my preference for "diurnal thermocline
base" rather than "[surface] foundation". If we just wanted a name, we would
indeed choose the most familiar one, but if standard names are useful in
the way I think they are, the name should sometimes be more like a quick
answer that an expert would give to the question, "What do you mean by that?"



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